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Trump meets with influential health-care executives

🕐 3 min read

President-elect Donald Trump’s meeting this month with Silicon Valley’s elite made headlines for its inclusion of such big names as Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Tesla Motors’s Elon Musk, and Amazon’s Jeffrey P. Bezos. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

The group talked about a wide range of topics, including bringing jobs back to the United States, immigration, China, cybersecurity, taxes and technology in schools.

What has been less publicized is that Trump has been holding similar meet-and-greets with other titans of industry in critical areas of the economy, including finance and network news.

On Wednesday, his guests were health-care executives – many of whom represent companies or institutions that have a big stake in the outcome of Trump’s ambitions to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. According to a pool report, the group, all men, met with him at 11 a.m. at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. They included John Noseworthy of the Mayo Clinic, Paul Rothman of Johns Hopkins Medicine, David Torchiana of Partners HealthCare and Toby Cosgrove of the Cleveland Clinic.

Noseworthy, a neurologist who is president and CEO of the Mayo Clinic, in recent years has been an articulate commentator about health-care reform on TV shows such as MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and “Charlie Rose.” He has argued that Obamacare was basically an expansion of insurance coverage and did not emphasize patient health enough.

In an interview with The Washington Post in November, he said his office had already been in touch with Trump’s transition team offering help.

“We’re really talking about replace and repair, rather than repeal. But we haven’t seen a full approach yet from the administration. Personally, this is me speaking. . . . We’re basically optimistic we can create a better system together,” Noseworthy said.

Rothman is chief executive of Johns Hopkins Medicine and several years ago found himself in the awkward position of criticizing physician Ben Carson, who at the time was head of pediatric neurology for the institution, after he made disparaging remarks about same-sex marriage. Carson later apologized publicly for his “poorly chosen words.” Carson, a onetime political rival of Trump’s, has been tapped to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Torchiana is chief executive of Partners HealthCare, based in Massachusetts – a state that has long been at the forefront of health-care reform. Partners operates two of the most well-regarded hospitals in the world, Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which are affiliated with Harvard Medical School. But in recent months, Partners has been under fire from some policymakers because of what they describe as a large gap between what Partners charges and what other providers charge.

Cosgrove, a heart surgeon and Vietnam veteran who is chief executive of the Cleveland Clinic, may be a candidate for the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to Bloomberg News. Cosgrove has met with Trump several other times. He’s on an advisory panel of 16 executives for the president-elect on jobs and the economy, has been spotted in Trump Tower recently and was in Palm Beach meeting with Trump last week.

Cosgrove has criticized Obamacare and in September appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” saying that health-care providers are drowning in paperwork.

“The number of quality metrics that we have to report to the government every year is just going up like crazy. We’re now reporting well over 100 quality metrics on a regular basis,” he said, describing regulation paperwork as coming in seven-foot-tall stacks of 16,000 pages.

Also in the meeting were Bruce Moskowitz, described as a physician in Palm Beach, and Isaac Perlmutter, chief executive officer of Marvel Entertainment. We can’t explain what he was doing there.

Separately, former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson was expected to meet with Trump later in the day to discuss Obamacare reform, according to a pool report. Thompson served as secretary of health and human services during George W. Bush’s first term.

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